An interview with HowtoBecome.tv last night spurred me to write this post. HowtoBecome.tv has interviewed 70 managers from companies like Google, Amazon, and Fidelity, about how someone can get a job at their respective companies.
The one issue that kept coming up in every interview was cultural “fit”.
I agree with these experts and can tell you that cultural “fit” is the number 1 thing employer’s look when hiring, after the required skill set. Not your GPA. Not your success at past companies. Not your English skills. Just cultural “fit”.
So what does that mean?
When a hiring manager is looking for a new addition to the team, they look for someone that can communicate clearly and has similar interests to the rest of the team.
Someone that they believe will be able to understand the other team members and work closely with them. That means people have to LIKE YOU! They have to think you’re nice, funny, and interesting. They have to believe that they will enjoy spending 8 hours a day with you.
Think about it.
There are 1000’s of people in America and around the world with education and skill sets similar to your own.
The ONLY way you can differentiate is by becoming culturally competent.
You need to understand American culture. The humor, small talk, sports, morals, ethics, individuality, popculture, slangs, etc. You need to be able to relate to the people around you. This is why cultural fit goes well beyond your English skills.
Heck, there are plenty of international individuals that can speak and write English better than me. But if you can’t relate on a deeper level, it will be extremely difficult to relate on both personal and professional levels.
There is no secret way to improve this. You need to work hard and educate yourself on American culture. You can read books, watch American TV and movies, read the news, and become friends with more Americans.
You need to put effort to adapt or you will not be able to differentiate yourself. Here are a couple of my favorite resources to start you off:
Bostinno – Boston’s best local news
Huffington Post – USA Current Events
Forbes – Business News
CrunchBase – Tech News
American Ways: A Cultural Guide to the United States – Great book on American culture basics.
Comedy Central – Things American’s think are funny
I would also suggest taking my DreamJob Achiever class, the only class tailored to international individuals trying to get their American dream job and a visa. Remember, taking action and betting on yourself is the only way to succeed.